Thursday, January 31

SECURITY WOES AT SFO / Man walks away after shoes set off warning -- thousands delayed A surveillance tape of the security area failed to show much other than grainy images that were useless in trying to get a description of the man, Wilson said. The airport plans to replace that camera and others with digital equipment to improve the quality, he said.
Upgraded cameras? Looks like most 7-11's have better security than the airports! Can you say FEDERALIZE NOW!!
John Ashcroft's Perilous Nipples / In which the desperately dour attorney general covers up Justice and Law, appropriately Sometimes it's stories as tiny and seemingly insignificant as Attorney General and noted McCarthy sycophant John Ashcroft, a ferociously religious and wildly troubled, apparently sexless, desperately conservative ball of walking disgust with no discernable pulse but that's just an opinion, ordering his very own Justice Department to spend $8,000 to purchase heavy blue drapes to cover the two large, noble, partially naked statues that have adorned the department's Great Hall since the 1930s.

Wednesday, January 30

Rev. Jackson's esteem for Lay is most holey Comment dept.: Now who's the American Taliban? Attorney General John Ashcroft doesn't want to be photographed at press conferences in front of two nude statues in the Justice Department, so he's hiding them behind $8,000 worth of blue drapes.
Why not save money and clothe the statues in some discarded burqas from Afghanistan?
Boston Globe Online / Nation | World / Bush backs Cheney on papers Bush advisers said the refusal to share information with the congressional General Accounting Office was a matter of democratic principle, and an attempt to rebuild a zone of privacy in the Oval Office that has eroded in recent years under constant probing by Congress and independent counsels.
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer even compared the energy panel's deliberation to the writing of the US Constitution, noting that ''the very document that protects our liberties more than anything else, the Constitution, was of course drafted in total secrecy.''
Like the writers of the Constitution? Gag me with a spoon.
GAO to Sue White House for Energy Documents ( It would be the first time in the GAO's 80-year existence that it sued the executive branch. The lawsuit would be filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
GAO officials were calling congressional leaders at the Capitol Wednesday morning to tell them of the decision. An official announcement explaining the GAO's reasoning was expected after noon.
Bush administration takes document suppression to NEW LEVELS.

Tuesday, January 29

January 28, 2002 - Political Contributions Have Absolutely No Impact... And Other Beltway Lies "To destroy this invisible government," wrote Theodore Roosevelt nearly a century ago, "to befoul the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day."
Roosevelt was the driving force behind the ban on corporate donations that was enacted in 1907 -- a law the current soft-money loophole makes a mockery of. Closing it won't put an end to the "unholy alliance" at the heart of the Enron debacle. But it's a start -- and an important one.

Monday, January 28

The Austin Chronicle Politics: The Hightower Lowdown This is what strikes me as true about the ongoing Enron scandal. The significant thing about Enron's escapades is not what the top executives did that was illegal ... but what they did that is considered to be perfectly legal. The politicians and media have quickly narrowed the focus of their inquiries to legalistic violations of securities law and conflict-of-interest violations between Enron execs and the Bush White House. But this completely ignores -- indeed, hides -- the Big Crime: Allowing a single, avaricious corporation to amass such power in our democracy that it can rig the game to suit itself, then, when its empire begins to collapse, get direct access to the highest officials in the land.
Daily Curio - Food & Water Inc. Higazy’s misfortune was all the result of a radio “marketed for pilots,” lies by hotel employees and/or employees of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and a hefty bit of intimidation by police interrogators that had Higazy so frightened and confused that he started admitting to things that we’re totally fabricated.
According to the FBI, a Millenium Hotel employee reported to them that the suspicious radio was found along with Higazy’s passport and other personal items in the safe of Higazy’s room. But even though it wasn’t the truth, it was Higazy’s word versus an unknown and unnamed accuser and all the crushing weight of a Justice Department whipped up into a vengeful frenzy.
Higazy’s lawyer, Robert S. Dunn, told the New York Times that his client was confronted with “unrelenting pressure” while being held and questioned in solitary confinement for 31 days. It got so bad, in fact, that Higazy eventually told the federal agents questioning him that the radio was his. Worse, his lawyer was not allowed to be with Higazy during the sessions in which he was intimidated and forced to admit to owning a radio he knew nothing about.
Luckily for Higazy the real owner of the radio eventually came forward and the FBI’s case against him crumbled before their eyes. It’s now Higazy’s attorney’s turn to begin asking some tough questions of his own.
The gov't says Johnnie Walker has 'admitted' guilt. Just got to wonder if they got him to 'admit' it the same way as they did this poor schmoe? Books | The spy who wasn't The spy who wasn't
Wen Ho Lee speaks out about his ordeal at the hands of the FBI and a witch-hunting press. To many Arab men today, his story will sound all too familiar.

Friday, January 25

Appeals Court Denies Convict DNA Test in a '90 Rape Case WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 — Overturning a lower court ruling that drew national attention, a federal appeals court in Virginia has refused to allow a man who was convicted 12 years ago of sex crimes to have DNA tests he contends would exonerate him.
In ruling against the man, James Harvey, the three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, held that the defendant had not shown that the prosecutor violated his rights by refusing him access to DNA testing.
Many H.M.O.'s for the Elderly Make Deep Cuts in Drug Aid The nation's largest health insurers, which recruited elderly people to Medicare H.M.O.'s by dangling offers of free prescriptions, are eliminating drug coverage or demanding sharply higher payments for drugs and treatments from some of their sickest members.
The companies say they are losing so much money providing drug coverage that they have to limit what they offer if they are to stay in the Medicare market. But the cutbacks effectively leave the companies providing insurance to their healthy members, while tens of thousands of elderly patients with serious diseases like cancer have no affordable insurance coverage for their basic medical needs.

Monday, January 21 SPECIALS
Anthrax Missing From Army Lab
January 20, 2002
By JACK DOLAN And DAVE ALTIMARI, Courant Staff Writers

Lab specimens of anthrax spores, Ebola virus and other pathogens disappeared from the Army's biological warfare research facility in the early 1990s, during a turbulent period of labor complaints and recriminations among rival scientists there, documents from an internal Army inquiry show.

The 1992 inquiry also found evidence that someone was secretly entering a lab late at night to conduct unauthorized research, apparently involving anthrax. A numerical counter on a piece of lab equipment had been rolled back to hide work done by the mystery researcher, who left the misspelled label "antrax" in the machine's electronic memory, according to the documents obtained by The Courant.
Shoe bomber judge's hubby nabbed in porno raid
by Dave Wedge and J.M. Lawrence
Shoe bomber judge's hubby nabbed in porno raid
by Dave Wedge and J.M. Lawrence

Saturday, January 19, 2002

A high-rolling Hub lawyer whose jurist wife is presiding over the case against accused shoe bomber Richard Reid was among seven men busted for fondling each other in a seedy Rhode Island porno theater this week, police and sources said.
Attorney Alan M. Reisch, a partner at the prestigious Goulston and Storrs law firm, was one of seven men busted in Amazing Express Video in Johnston, R.I., Wednesday night. Reisch, the husband of U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Judith Dein, and the other six men all had their pants down and were engaged in various sex acts when cops burst into the darkened theater. Technology | Capitalist pigs The evidence is rapidly piling up that Enron's executives sold stock when they already knew hard times were coming, that they lied about the financial health of their company to their employees, their shareholders and the analysts responsible for covering them and that they ignored the entreaties of some of their own in-house colleagues who begged them to clean up the mess before it was too late. When a senior staff attorney goes to the extraordinary lengths of secretly hiring outside counsel to determine whether Enron's accounting practices are legal, you know things are pretty rotten.
From: Mark Graffis

How to Explain Enron to Your Children:

Feudalism - You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.

Fascism - You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take
care of them, and sells you the milk.

Communism - You have two cows. Your neighbors help take care of them and you
share the milk.

Totalitarianism - You have two cows. The government takes them both and
denies they ever existed and drafts you into the army. Milk is banned.

Capitalism - You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd
multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.

Enron Venture Capitalism - You have two cows. You sell three of them to your
publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your
brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an
associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax
exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via
an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority
shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed
company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option
on one more.

Friday, January 18

A System Corrupted A System Corrupted


Clearly, Larry Lindsey shouldn't have described the Enron affair as a "tribute to American capitalism," and Paul O'Neill shouldn't have declared: "Companies come and go. It's part of the genius of capitalism." Both the top White House economist and the Treasury secretary have been excoriated for their callousness. But did they have a point?

Thursday, January 17

If the deregulation zealots had their way, we'd be left with tainted food, unsafe cars, bridges collapsing into rivers, children's pajamas bursting into flames and a host of corporations far more rapacious and unscrupulous than they are now.

Enron manipulated the energy markets and cooked its own books in ways that would not have been possible if its operations had had a reasonable degree of transparency. But Enron operated in what has been widely characterized as a "black hole" that left competitors and others asking such basic questions as how the company made its money.

Friday, January 11 - Confessions of a 10 Percenter It’s strange, really. Having been given the extraordinary gift of a presidency he didn’t win, one would think that he would want to do something extraordinary with the opportunity -- to stretch beyond himself -- to make history. It’s been done before, by presidents with a lot less to account for in terms of how they initially gained office. Lyndon Johnson was the Southerner who led the way on civil rights. Richard Nixon was the cold-warrior who went to China.
Right now it’s looking like Bush will be remembered as the oilman who helped to grease the way for Enron to rip off America.
And I’m supposed to rally around that? - Confessions of a 10 Percenter It’s strange, really. Having been given the extraordinary gift of a presidency he didn’t win, one would think that he would want to do something extraordinary with the opportunity -- to stretch beyond himself -- to make history. It’s been done before, by presidents with a lot less to account for in terms of how they initially gained office. Lyndon Johnson was the Southerner who led the way on civil rights. Richard Nixon was the cold-warrior who went to China.
Right now it’s looking like Bush will be remembered as the oilman who helped to grease the way for Enron to rip off America.
And I’m supposed to rally around that? Your tar and feathers ready? Mine are.

Ari Fleischer, that simpering twit of a White House spokesman, urged Thursday that the Enron debacle not be turned into a partisan witch hunt. OK, Ari, let's make it a bipartisan witch hunt.
But all the news seems so Republican-specific at the moment. You know they're getting edgy at the White House when both President Bush and Fleischer -- within about 30 minutes of each other -- try to blame Enron Chief Executive Officer Ken Lay (the single largest contributor to Bush's political career) on Ann Richards. Whoever wrote that talking point needs to be sent to the correspondence pool. It, at least, was not a good day to try the line.
Let's wade right in on the Justice Department's criminal investigation. That would be the same Justice Department headed by Attorney General John Ashcroft, who it seems was one of many politicians who benefited from the largesse of Lay, other Enron executives and the company's political action committee.

Thursday, January 10

The National Enquirer: Jerry Falwell gay scandal JERRY FALWELL GAY SCANDAL

His university is buzzing as young pastor resigns

A homosexual scandal is rocking Rev. Jerry Falwell's archconservative Liberty University, where rumors are rampant that male students engaged in gay sex with a campus pastor.
GOP, Enron in Bed But Press Snoozes GOP, Enron in Bed But Press Snoozes
by Dave Zweifel

A few journalists - admittedly, very few - are asking why their colleagues are giving George W. Bush a "free ride" on the Enron Corp. scandal.
If this were Bill Clinton, after all, there would be front-page stories, nasty editorials, ranting columnists and a congressional investigation or two. There'd even be a couple of "outraged" congressmen suggesting impeachment's not far off.
The New York Observer Is George W. Bush God’s President?
by Joe Conason

Do tax cuts for the wealthy represent the will of God?
Excellent analysis.

Tuesday, January 8

The Quiet Man But now, thanks to the disappearance of the budget surplus, the excess revenue collected by the payroll tax isn't being used to acquire assets, or even to pay down the federal debt; it's being used to cover deficits elsewhere in the budget. We're not talking small numbers here; only about 70 cents of each dollar in Social Security revenue is used to pay current benefits. In effect, the other 30 cents has now been expropriated for other uses — mainly tax cuts for the richest few percent of the population.
Was this what Mr. Greenspan intended — to raise taxes on the poor and the middle class, so that they could be cut for the rich? If not, why doesn't he say something? After all, a word from him could alter the landscape of economic debate, just as it did a year ago.
Let’s turn to another apparently inexorable tendency -- the destruction of the environment that sustains human life. The Bush Administration has been widely criticised for undermining the Kyoto Treaty. The grounds that they presented are that to conform to the Treaty would harm the U.S. economy. Those criticisms are rather surprising because the decisions are entirely rational within the framework of existing ideology. We’re instructed daily to be firm believers in neo-classical markets in which isolated individuals are rational wealth maximisers. The market responds perfectly to their votes, which are expressed in currency inputs. The value of a person’s interests is measured the same way. In particular, the interests of those with no votes, no dollars, those interests are valued at zero. Future generations, for example, who don’t have dollar inputs in the market.
So it’s therefore entirely rational to destroy the possibility for decent survival for our grandchildren, if by doing so we can maximise the particular form of self-interest that’s hailed as the highest value, reinforced by vast industries that are devoted to implanting and reinforcing them. The threats to survival are currently being enhanced by dedicated efforts to weaken the institutional structures that have been developed to mitigate the harsh consequences of market fundamentalism and, even more important, to undermine the culture of sympathy and solidarity that sustains these institutions. Well, that’s another prescription

Monday, January 7

Hurray For The Redneck, White And Blue In 1996 -- on Sept. 9, to be precise -- Clinton asked Congress for $1 billion to improve airport security, to improve security at our nation's infectious-disease laboratories and to require that chemical markers be put in explosives to make them easier to trace, plus a host of other provisions designed to make air travel safer and to discourage terrorist attacks.
"We know we can't make the world risk-free," Clinton said at the time, "but we can reduce the risks we face, and we have to take the fight to the terrorist."
Congress scuttled most of Clinton's recommendations, partly because of pressure from the National Rifle Association.
Commentary, January 4, 2002 — Andrew Opines, Over-Enthusiasm for Evidence, The Surds Are Coming! The Surds Are Coming!, Entrance to Hell Discovered, and Feynman on Cargo Cult Science........ Going to Fox-TV at the same time, I found two astrologers I’d never heard of, and our own Sylvia Browne (who just cracked 123 days in her stonewalling of our agreement; way to go, Sylvia!) enthusiastically discussing predictions that really matter, the latest who’ll-marry-whom aspects of Glittertown politics, especially Tom Cruise’s amorous adventures, and a wide-eyed host oohed and aaahed appropriately as these weighty matters were revealed to us with the usual accuracy and details. What disdain and contempt Fox-TV must have for their viewers! Browne essentially said nothing, but sat there with her trademark pained expression and mouthed some generalities. Yawn.
And that's before you even get to the Faux News Department. Go Geraldo!!

Friday, January 4

Bin Laden in Utah? That's what federal agents are being told Bin Laden in Utah? That's what federal agents are being told

Scripps Howard News Service

Published Jan 3 2002
SALT LAKE CITY _ Scores of Utahns apparently believe that Osama bin Laden is hiding out in the Beehive State -- perhaps drawn there by his proclivity toward plural marriage or his penchant for desert climes.
Federal agents in Salt Lake City say they've fielded dozens of reports that the accused terrorist mastermind has been spotted on the freeway, in the mall or eating a Big Mac and fries at McDonald's.
``We've had a bunch of bin Laden sightings,'' said Special Agent Kevin Eaton.
Call off the Olympics before it's too late!!!
Profile of a Killer Washington has been pressing Russia, Pakistan and other countries, quite rightly, to improve their control of germs, chemicals and nuclear weapons. But one of the lessons of the anthrax investigation is that the first thing we need to do to feel safer is put our own house in order. It is appalling that we cannot even determine which labs have exchanged anthrax with Fort Detrick.
Terrorism and laxity, it seems, afflict not only foreigners with different complexions and religions, but --in exceptional cases -- perhaps also those with white lab coats and military haircuts.

Thursday, January 3

New Deficits to Force Boost of Debt Ceiling WASHINGTON -- Only four years after celebrating the end of chronic deficit spending, Congress soon will be forced once again to raise the federal debt ceiling so that the government can keep operating.

Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill has notified Congress that the current $5.95-trillion debt ceiling could be breached as early as February. He asked lawmakers to move quickly to raise the limit to $6.7 trillion.
The ENRONIZATION of the American Economy.

"Sure, it's a big deal. Instead of having latitude to do lots of things, we're back to the old business of trying to balance our wishes and our resources," said economist Susan Hering of UBS Warburg, a New York securities firm. "I'm sure it will loom large in the elections."
Executive Privilege Again Is the White House counsel explaining to the president the scope of the powers being asserted in his ill-advised orders? "Executive privilege" was restricted by the Supreme Court in the Nixon case and further circumscribed by the courts in Clinton's frantic attempts to place himself above the law. Why is Bush, so early in his term and with little to hide, going down this road to upset our system of checks and balances?

Wednesday, January 2

Chicago Tribune | Classified! Classified!
George W. uses 9/11 as a pretext to reverse the will of Congress and wall off presidential records

By Stanley I. Kutler
Special to the Tribune
Published January 2, 2002

The Bush Administration has consistently shown itself partial to official secrecy -- especially since Sept. 11. Some actions might be justified on emergency grounds. But not all.

In some cases, President Bush clearly has acted in behalf of other matters on his agenda, using the needs of the present situation as an excuse.

On Nov. 1, he issued Executive Order 13233 that effectively undermines the Presidential Records Act of 1978, and he did so in the name of "national security."
Enron Is a Cancer on the Presidency After all, not only was Kenny Boy one of Bush's major contributors, but it was Lay and Enron that Bush turned to for critical advice on how to further exploit U.S. natural resources. The media, which had hounded Bill Clinton on his Whitewater connections, have allowed Bush to maintain the fiction that his--and his father's--administration had nothing to do with the debacle that is Enron.

Given the intense interest in the list of those who slept over in the Clinton White House, it's odd that no attention has been paid to Kenny Boy's sleepover in the early years of the senior Bush's White House.